The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is one of the largest museums in the world. It is also an internationally renowned scientific and cultural institution.
Visiting the AMNH is discovering the origins of man, animals, civilizations and financing the museum’s research team.
You do not have to be experts in natural sciences to understand and appreciate the exhibits of AMNH.
This museum appears in many movies like “Night at the Museum.” It’s a must-see when you visit New York.
History of the American Museum of Natural History
Albert Smith Bickmore proposed and persuaded the governor of New York, John Thompson Hoffman, to create a museum of natural history in the city. The latter formalized the creation of the AMNH by an Act of April 6, 1869.
They exhibited the first collection from 1871 in the Arsenal of Central Park.
The collection grew and no longer fit into the Arsenal. So the museum management had built another building, located between streets 77 and 81. President Ulysses S. Grant laid the first stone in 1974. The first room was inaugurated in 1877 by an official ceremony of President Rutherford B. Hayes.
The museum kept on building new rooms and spaces like an auditorium, a planetarium… the museum now has a Center for Science, Education, and Innovation with a team of over 250 researchers.
All programs respond to the AMNH’s primary mission: “Discover, interpret and disseminate (through scientific research and education) knowledge of human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.”
What you will see at the AMNH?
The museum offers several permanent exhibition spaces on five floors and 1.600.000 square feet (150.000 m2). All rooms are dedicated to a particular topic:
– Biodiversity and Environment: these rooms are dedicated to biodiversity, the environment of NYC, a room for the North American forests, living in the marine world (with the reproduction of a giant whale hanging in the roof).
– Birds and Reptiles: see an impressive collection of the world’s bird species, birds of the city of New York, the American birds, and a room dedicated to reptiles and amphibians.
– Earth and Planets: a room on meteorites, another about gemstones and minerals.
– The fossil halls: it is the main attraction of the museum with skeletons of mammals, dinosaurs, primitive animals, the first vertebrates and some reproductions at the Orientation Center
– The origin of man and civilization: through these rooms, you can see the evolution of human beings and societies (Mexico and Central America, African civilizations, Asian, Pacific, South America, cultures of Northeast America).
– The halls of mammals: the latter are classified by geographical order, and reproduced in dioramas millimeter (presentation form in which animals appear in their natural environment). You can discover mammals of North America, Africa, Asia, the State of New York, primates, and small mammals.
– The Rose Center for Earth and Space: the Hayden Planetarium, the Cosmic Way, a representation of the universe, the Hall of the Universe, and the Big Bang Theater.
-The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial: it is a two-floor-room in museum entrance.
– Room of Discoveries: for families and especially for children from 5-12 years old.
Besides all this, you can visit some exhibitions and special events like Night at the Museum during which you can sleep in the exhibitions rooms.
To find out when these events are, review the agenda of the museum on their website.
Should you visit all the rooms?
Yes, because they all are interesting and you learn a lot about the planet, and our origins… but the problem with visiting all of them, is that it would take you more than two days!
As for the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, I recommend that you select the halls you want to visit, depending on your tastes.
It is best to download the map of the museum before visiting.You can also download the free app of the Museum. It will tell you where you are and suggest exhibits! There’s a free WiFi connection in the Museum. You could download the app there if you forgot to do it before 😉
It is also possible to wander the halls quickly to see and discover without reading all the descriptions.
Anyway, know that you might get lost in this vast museum. I always wonder in which room I am in and where I am in the museum 😀 It’s part of the charm of the museum 😉
What are the rooms that I recommend?
If you have no desire to visit the museum, at least go through the main room (Memorial Theodore Roosevelt). The facade of the museum is impressive, and the room is huge. It is large enough to have fossils of a Barosaurus protecting his child from attack by an Allosaurus. The main room is decorated with magnificent murals.
Then you have to go through the living dinosaurs rooms!
I also recommend the living mammals rooms with magnificent dioramas, see the living underwater world, biodiversity, animals from Africa and Asia, the science room, and the Grand Gallery.
Is it necessary to visit the museum?
Yes, it is a very interesting museum that will please both children and adults.
There is no need to spend all day there, in 2-3 hours, you can see many rooms without getting tired or bored.
Some people told me they did not like the museum much. They say it lacks soul, and it is not as nice as they say. Well, I prefer to tell you the AMNH may not please you that much, but I love the AMNH! 😀
Is the AMNH a free museum?
It is a “Pay As You Wish” museum for NY, NJ and CT residents only. They are only recommended rates; you can give what you want.
If you don’t live in these areas, the general admission rates are:
– Adults: $23
– Children (3-12): $13
– Seniors (60 +): $18
– Students (with ID): $18
In addition, the AMNH is included in the New York Pass and the New York City Pass.
The last things you need to know about the AMNH
So you can better enjoy your visit:
– The museum is open daily from 10am to 5.45pm.
– Is closed only on Thanksgiving Day and December 25.
– You can have an audio guide costing $7 for adults and $5 for children under the age of 12.
– You can have a bottle of water inside the museum.
– You can take pictures without flash, selfie-stick, and tripod are prohibited.
– All backpacks and packages are left in the cloakroom of the museum ($ 2).
– There is a food court in the basement of the museum and two coffee shops (first and fourth floors).
– You can request a wheelchair (see accessibility measures here).
Where is the museum?
The American Museum of Natural History is located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, across from Central Park.
Address: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5102
As I said in the article, the Museum of Natural History is almost mandatory when you visit New York City!